DNAinfo: Upper East Siders Hold on to Hope Local Garbage Site Plan Will Be Trashed
By Amy Zimmer and Jill Colvin
April 22, 2011
Original available here
After a long fight against plans for a waterfront trash collection site at East 91st Street, Upper East Siders thought they had finally won a reprieve because budget constraints appeared to have postponed the project indefinitely.
But now residents are re-suiting for battle. The City Council and the Bloomberg Administration negotiated to restore the funding for the waste transfer sites, announcing Thursday that the project would be fast-tracked.
City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin called the East 91st Street project "an outrageously expensive idea," saying, "We can't afford this garbage dump and we shouldn't build it."
The garbage station at East 91st Street was approved as part of a 2006 citywide overhaul to move more trash onto barges than onto long-haul trucks and to decrease the burdens on some outer-borough neighborhoods, including the South Bronx, Williamsburg and Greenpoint, that complained about having more than their fair share of dumps.
The plan was hailed by many environmental advocates but it angered some residents in neighborhoods that were slated to get new garbage facilities.
Upper East Siders were under the impression that plans for their waste transfer station — which sits right in the middle of Asphalt Green's recreation facility and near Carl Schurz Park — would not be built until at least 2018. Members of Community Board 8 had cheered at a meeting earlier this month when they heard that Mayor Michael Bloomberg's preliminary budget had delayed funding for the facility.
Funding has since been restored, and now, construction is set to start on E. 91st Street in fiscal year 2012.
Two other waterfront trash transfer stations in Manhattan are expected to move forward: one at West 59th Street and one at Gansevoort Street are slated to start in Fiscal Year 2013.
City officials promised to bring costs down through "value engineering." The city will reduce unnecessary design costs and will capitalize on labor agreements forged with construction unions to reduce costs further, Jason Post, a spokesman for the mayor, explained.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was "gratified" by the "commitment to sustainability on a borough level and [having] facilities moving into diverse neighborhoods, just not low-income neighborhoods of color."
May 5's executive budget will include funding for the facilities, Quinn said, noting, "We have prevented, by the council's advocacy, that backtracking away from that important environmental goal."
Lappin said she supported the "broad goals" of the city's solid waste management plan, especially in reducing the number of garbage trucks on the roads, but she didn't think a trash facility belonged in the "heart of a densely populated residential neighborhood." She particularly did not think it belonged within 600 feet of public housing projects and in the "middle of a park and athletic facility — Asphalt Green — that sees over 675,000 visits a year."
"That's not to mention the fact that the [facility] will lead to garbage trucks queuing daily in a neighborhood that already ranks among New York's worst in terms of air quality," Lappin said.
Residents in other neighborhoods, however, were thrilled.
"We are just overjoyed," said Morningside Heights resident Marie Ledoux, 82, who fought for 20 years with the Morningside Heights-West Harlem Sanitation Coalition in favor of the stations. Her group thought Manhattan wasn't pulling its weight in handling its own trash.
"We're just delighted that the whole thing is back on track," she said, looking forward to hundreds of diesel-spewing trucks being take off the road, reducing pollution from Morningside Heights to the George Washington Bridge.
"That will be relief for the people who live there," she said. "We hope it will proceed as scheduled."